On Friday afternoon the Dallas Cowboys made the Seahawks negotiations with Frank Clark even more expensive by signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a five-year $100 million deal.
The 27-year old defensive end will be earning $65 million in the first three years of his contract, the most in the history of the league for a non quarterback.
Lawrence has a similar skill set to Clark, but he’s a slightly less gifted pass rusher than the 25-year old. That mean’s that Seattle can expect Clark to want even more per year, and probably a longer deal since he’s a couple years younger.
Seattle has to negotiate a deal with its franchise quarterback that is widely expected to be in the $33 to $35 million a year range, and now is looking at a minimum of $20 million a year for its stud defensive end — Clark will make $17.1 million on the franchise tag this year. That means that the Seahawks potentially would be committing at least $53 million to $55 million to two players. With the salary cap going to be higher than $200 million in 2020, that means that around 25% of the team’s cap would be committed to two players.
Oh, and KJ Wright — another major part of Seattle’s defense — is also looking for a contract extension; Jarran Reed will also be a free agent after 2019. That’s five players that Seattle could potentially tie up nearly 60% of its salary cap after 2020.
Since the defense has several holes that need to be filled, and lack of experience in the secondary, that’s a lot of money to be shelling out for five players. It’s difficult to see how it makes sense for the team to limit its potential resources in the future like that, especially since this upcoming draft is arguably the most talented pass rushing draft in recent memory. It would make sense for Seattle to trade Clark for another first round pick, hopefully higher than 21, in the draft in order to give it the best chance at adding more talent to the roster.
That would be more logical than keeping Clark in franchise tag limbo for two years in a row — the tag is fully guaranteed, and goes up 120% for the second tag. Tagging the defensive end again would have the same affect of eating up more of the cap, and limiting the team’s financial flexibility, as signing the defensive end to a long term deal at $20+ million a year would.
While draft picks are a crap shoot, the Seahawks would be better off collecting as many talented players as they can to fill the holes on the defense as possible before the season starts. The best way to do that, is to trade Clark for as many picks as they’re able to get.